The Right-handed Column

This column is being written with my right hand.

By Tom Cardella

No big deal to you, but a big deal to me — I’m left-handed. But since we last met in this column, I broke a bone in my left hand. For the first time in the 52 years of writing this column, my left hand has the week off. And it says, it’s about time. It is pushing for more weeks off and is likely to get them.

The left hand has always gotten a bad rap. Back in the day, my teacher would remove my pen or pencil from my left hand and try to force me to write with my right hand. For some strange reason, teachers were fixated on the idea that writing left-handed was unacceptable. Their attempts to force me to write with my right hand were about as successful as an Air Force instructor’s attempt in later years to teach me to swim. You’ll find me in the three-foot end of the pool.

Perhaps it was the Romans who are responsible for the belief that there is something wrong with left-handed people. The Latin word for left hand is “sinister.” I can’t blame the Romans. Maybe Brutus was a lefty? I point with pride to Barack Obama and Sandy Koufax, both lefthanders. Donald Trump and Clay Buchholz are right-handed. I rest my case.

How did I break a bone in my left hand? I’m glad you asked. I tripped on the stairs in my house and grabbed onto the wrought iron railing. I broke my incipient fall. Unfortunately, I also broke my hand. I wish I had suffered the injury in a more dramatic fashion. Maybe winning a duel to save the life of The Mother of Dragons. I promise this will be my only reference to “Game of Thrones.” Can’t blame me for trying to curry favor with my youthful readers. Let’s be honest. When I told the nurse how I got injured, you could read her thoughts — the old man belongs in a nursing home.

To avoid the emergency room of the local hospital, I got treatment at an urgent care center. Later that night, the fingers that were peeking out of my splint began to swell and turn a nice indigo blue. That’s how I wound up in the local ER anyway. Can we talk? Using the word “emergency” to describe the ER is just a bit misleading. I waited over two hours before anyone asked for my medical insurance. When Republicans tell you that people without medical insurance can always be treated at an ER, ask them when was the last time they were in an ER? The medical people who work in an ER are overworked and underappreciated. You don’t want to add to their burden by having them do routine medical care.

My editor believes that when I run out of ideas for a column, I opt for surgery. It is true that in the past decade, I have written so many columns about my medical procedures that my future columns may be published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

My long-suffering wife has concluded that when she married me, I should have come with a warranty. When people get stuck purchasing an automobile that breaks down, they call the car a “lemon.” My wife, Fran, has been calling me “lemon” recently. I thought it was because my basketball prowess reminded her of the late “Meadowlark” Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters. But I’m beginning to think It has something to do with my less than perfect health. Especially since I heard her the other night tell her girlfriend Dolores that she should have had me inspected by Ralph Nader before she agreed to marry me. I can’t say that I blame her. She did donate me a kidney. And when my hand surgeon recommended that I have surgery tomorrow to fix my deformed knuckle, I thought maybe she could donate me one of her knuckles and save me the operation. She was less than receptive to the idea.

We have a trip planned in May. I think Fran was just kidding when she also remarked to Dolores that I intentionally injured my hand so that I don’t have to carry our luggage. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that most of my friends and family members agree with her. I am not normally a sensitive fellow, but that comment smarts a bit. However, I do think that if we decide to go ahead with our trip, not having to carry our luggage is a definite plus.

In baseball, a certain type of arm surgery is named after a former major league pitcher, Tommy John. I have often wondered what was that surgery called when John had it done? Is it unreasonable to expect that my hand surgery tomorrow will henceforth be called “Tom Cardella” surgery? Fran says maybe I agreed to surgery as a vanity project.

I’m thinking that perhaps the operation will improve my curveball. As a pitcher in schoolyard stickball circa 1953, my slow curve was responsible for some of the longest home runs ever hit anywhere. They used to issue warnings to keep the neighborhood kids indoors when I pitched. If the surgery improves the break on the old curve, maybe I will make a comeback.

Wonder how Fran would feel about becoming a baseball wife?